14 July 2014

Stopping The Bleeding


Maybe it's a stereotype but it always seems to me like the Americans are so proud of their leaders and.. I'm not sure why. As a young English chap I couldn't give two solitary fucks about the people in charge over here as, since my birth, our Prime Ministers have all been reptiles from the planet Cunt. Oh, and the less said about the monarchy the better. It's not that I don't like the Queen as a person because, beyond being the frowny looking bitch on my money, I don't really know her. It's just that as a matter of principle, I'd much prefer to string her up from a lamp post like a wrinkled, German piƱata and beat the bullshit blue blood out of her before I consider myself one of her loyal subjects. I don't mind our national anthem “God Save the Queen”, but that's only because there's no such thing as God and so I'm basically just singing, “Fuck it, she's on her own”. America however does appear to properly idolise its presidents as though they don't seem to realise that virtually every single politician is a selfish, greedy, cock wart. Having said that, I might call the Queen a scrounging, work shy twat and feel nothing but the yanks have a bad habit of taking a gun and blowing their leaders’ fucking brains out... so who can know how they really feel!?
One of these presidents to have been shot was of course Abraham Lincoln who famously ruined the performance of a stage play when he rudely interrupted it with his disruptive assassination. It annoys me when people cough in the cinema, so a case of full blown death would do my fucking nut in. Well, in an attempt to learn a little more about the man and to more importantly kill a few hours, I decided to watch the 2012 film Lincoln. Well- to be honest, that's not completely true... I don't really care too much about Lincoln, it's just that it got good reviews and I'm a fan of its director, Spielberg. Anyway, it's obviously not an ironic title- the film does tell the story of Lincoln and in particular, the last couple of months of his life. The American Civil War is nearing its end as Lincoln battles to have the Thirteenth Amendment passed before his nation stops shooting the living fuck out of itself. He basically wants to abolish slavery and ensure that those people that he has already freed during the war remain so once it's all over. Considering he's been telling people that freeing all the black chaps will end the war, it's vital that he gets his shit sorted before the fucking thing just ends anyway and he loses the support of his nation.
                              
We're gonna need a bigger vote
So to start with, I think I'd like to talk about Spielberg and about how I think that he's both the most under-rated and over-rated director alive today. If you ask any non-film loving member of the public, ‘one of the commoners’ to name a director then I bet you Spielberg is the only name their primitive minds can muster. Bless them! However, ask somebody a little nerdier what they think of him and they'll probably dismiss him as being a style-less bore who chooses to make overly sentimental crowd pleasers over actual ‘proper’ films. Yeah- well, fuck the commoners obviously, but more importantly, fuck the haters because I think the guy’s great. Beyond the fact that he basically invented the fucking Summer blockbuster, what's wrong with making films that are just fun? Imagine wanting to watch a film for entertainment and not just because I need some Swedish cunt to teach me about existentialism in a five hour film from 1921. Fucking hell! I mean, there's a time and a place for everything and although I do like films that bake my noodle, I also occasionally want to see some fat shit fall down a hill before getting venom spat in his face by an extinct fucking lizard.

If I have any criticism of the great man, it's that perhaps when he does wander into the more serious films, it's clear that it's not him doing what he does best. I enjoy... is 'enjoy' the right word? Let’s try it... I enjoy Schindler's List ... Ugh no, ‘enjoy’ was definitely was not the right word. Err, 'like' maybe? No, that doesn't help. Err.. I think Schindler's List is as good a film as much as everybody else does... Yeah, I think that's about as tactful as we're going to get. However, as good as these more gritty movies are, they're clearly not as great as when he just lets loose and has a living turd with a glowing finger ride a bike across the moon. On the fun-o-meter, it should be obvious that Lincoln is one of the more serious films with a disappointing lack of aliens, dinosaurs or melty faced Nazi's. In fact, this film doesn't even mention the Vampire Hunting that I've been assured Lincoln was involved in. Instead what you get is basically just two and a bit hours of people talking. Sometimes they talk really slowly and sometimes they talk really loudly. But yeah.. Lincoln is a film about chatting and despite being one of the ‘Berg's more serious films, it was fucking great. I loved it.

For a start it features pretty much -the world’s greatest living actors- which helps considering the entire film is simply about making words come out of people’s mouths. There's a scene in which Lincoln and his wife have an argument during a lighting storm which is like watching the final round of an act off in a small room on Mount Olympus. It goes without saying that Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field are amazing but one of the surprises was in how great Tommy Lee Jones was too! I mean presuming you haven't seen him as Prune-Face in Batman Forever, he's obviously always great but he does tend to play similar characters quite a lot of the time. Do you need a grizzled, old, cowboy type chap who mutters his lines through a haze of grumpy, world weariness? Then, he's your guy! Here however he actually gets quite animated at times and is possibly the only character in the film with a proper arc. Perhaps this might even be the one criticism of the film that I have which is that, despite being about Lincoln, we don't actually learn that much about him. He appears on screen as a fully formed character and is basically a Rorschach test for what you already think about him. You get a sense of him as being good, conflicted, stubborn.. but that's basically the same as what you'd get from looking at that massive white statue of him having a sit down.

I'm behind you, you ignorant fuck!
Perhaps this was their intent all along though, with Day Lewis playing the legacy more than the man. The real story is about this amendment being passed and so, like in Jurassic Park it's not that we don't learn about Dr. Grant, it's just that he's not as important as the dinosaurs. Further proof of their intention to have Lincoln seem more monumental than human too might also be found in the mise-en-scene. Oop! Get me using French sounding words as though it doesn't make me feel sick. In case any of the commoners are here, that basically just means ‘the shit you can see on screen’. But it seems that every scene takes place in a darkened room in which people look thoughtfully out of a window whilst allowing a beam of sunlight to highlight their profile. If you've got interpersonally-based psychological issues then you won't like this film because nobody can open their mouth without turning their back on you and talking over their shoulder like a taxi driver. Every time a couple of characters have a conversation, I felt like I was being fucking snubbed. My point is that it's almost like Spielberg had no intent to humanise these people really- instead, trying to highlight their nobility and importance in history. I'm not saying that these people don't feel at all like real people because that's obviously not true. It's just that if you paused any moment of this film you'd basically have an image that could be printed onto the Yankee dollar and nobody would notice the difference.  

However, it was whilst watching this film that I realised there's a couple of things that Spielberg never gets the credit for that he certainly does deserve. Firstly, I can't think of a single bad performance in any of his films and so he clearly knows how to work with actors. I mean, the guy actually managed to get a good performance out of hulking, spud-man Vin Diesel in Saving Private Ryan. Imagine! I think the trick was to not let him talk too much and then kill him of as soon as is humanely possible. Secondly though, I think is his skill in ‘world building’. Lincoln is a full-on David Lean style epic and I completely bought what I was watching. When I saw a battlefield featuring hundreds of dead bodies, I didn't cynically wonder how many years of RADA the corpse-actors had studied for- I just thought.. I dunno... I thought, 'fuck me this battle went a little bit tits-up”. Spielberg might not have any obvious directorial ticks like Tim Burton’s autistic obsessions with being gothic or David Fincher's ghostly love of passing though sold objects, but so what? He knows how to tell a story and so when at his best, there's no real reason to impose himself on the screen.

I mean Lincoln is almost three hours long and I watched it on a sunny day because 'fuck the world', but I didn't feel it dragged or anything. The film is interesting, well-paced, well-acted and looks amazing so what more could you want? Well, vampire hunting obviously, but other than that! You won't learn anything more about the man than is already common knowledge but beyond the fact that I now have to do shit for myself, I didn't really know anything about the thirteenth amendment. I guess by accident that I'm a little more aware now though. Do the Americans love their presidents as much as it seems? I dunno... Lincoln was more of a procedural film than it was a biopic and spoiler alert, we never even get to see him get shot. But as movies go, this was great and worked really well for my self-esteem as Lincoln appears to be a good and mostly honest white man! After seeing 12 Years A Slave, I've been wracked with guilt and self-hate for my honky-kind and our evil, twattish past.. It's therefore nice to know that even though we were responsible for one of the most horrific things in human history, at least its end was thanks to a cracker with perspective. Thanks for reading and see you next time, motherfuckers!

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